Smart tips for car buying Consider these tips before buying a car. Americans bought more than 17 million new cars and trucks in 2017. If a new set of wheels is in your future, keep these things in mind throughout the process to find a vehicle that meets your needs. Read the full description of the infographic Before you buy Make a list of needs and wants. Set a budget. Most experts recommend a ceiling of 25 percent of your monthly income for all cars in your household. Choose between new or used, buying or leasing. Research prices and reviews. Get pre-approved for a loan. Trade-in? Use online tools to help determine its worth. When you shop Visit several dealerships. Test-drive, paying attention to handling and sight lines. Ask about financing and incentives. Negotiate the price before mentioning your trade-in. Don't be afraid to walk away. Closing the deal Bring pre-approval documentation and necessary paperwork. Carefully review the purchase contract. If you're preparing to buy a car, call your State Farm agent to discuss auto policy changes. Return to How to buy a new car from a dealership.